Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Overcome Weight Training Plateaus

When you are stuck with a certain weight on a certain exercise but are progressing across the board with the rest of your program there are a few things you can do.

Sometimes making five pound weight jumps is too much for most people. The problem, however is that you have no other choice. Most gyms only carry 2.5 pound plates which amount to a five pound increase when you put one on each side of the bar. With dumbbells it’s even worse because they go up in five pound increments which amount to ten pounds total. The way around this is to invest in some 1.25 pound plates and some Plate Mates. If you search the internet you can some sites that carry 1.25 pound plates or even one pound plates. These are great for adding to the bar in order to make small, consistent gains, week after week. Plate Mates are weighted magnets that come in 1.25 and 5/8 pound increments. They can be stuck on the end of dumbbells to allow for smaller increases from week to week. I highly recommend that you invest in both of these if you are interested in making continual progress and never want to hit another plateau.

If you don’t yet have one or 1.25 pound plates or Plate Mates you could add weight to the bar even if it means you have to drop out of your rep range slightly. So if you are supposed to be doing 5-8 reps in your program but are stuck with 225 pounds for seven and can’t go up you could actually try going to 230 at your next workout. While this may sound counterintuitive at first you have to realize that it is a new stimulus so at least you are not repeating the same thing again which does nothing to help you make progress. Even if you only get four reps with 230, it’s ok; it’s still something new. Next week you will try to get five reps with 230 and so on and so on. You will find, over time, some of your muscle groups have better endurance than others and that it is easier to add reps on some exercises while it is easier to simply add weight on others. This is just something that is very individual and which you will have to monitor closely over time.

The next thing you can do to break your plateau is to skip your second set of the exercise and instead of doing two straight sets do just one rest-pause set. So you would go to failure with 225, which in our hypothetical example would be six reps. At that point you put the weight down and take 10-15 deep breaths while resting 20-30 seconds. After your brief rest period grab the weight again and proceed to go to failure. You will usually get about half the reps you did on the first set so this would be three reps in our example. Repeat the sequence one more time and then move on to your next exercise. At the following workout you would try to beat the total number of reps that you got in the three sets.

Another option is to make a slight change to the way you do the exercise. Sometimes moving your grip in or out to the strongest position is enough of a change to get you on the road to progress again. So if you are bench pressing with a 26 inch grip you could move it out to a 30 inch grip. Most people will be stronger with a slightly wider grip because the range of motion is slightly less. If you were doing a chin up or pulldown you could move your grip inwards where you would again be stronger. This basically becomes a new stimulus that the body is not prepared for. It will also allow you to get more reps with the same weight or increase the weight which is a new stimulus as well as mentally stimulating and refreshing.

So there you have it, a variety of ways to bust through your plateaus and keep making consistent, steady progress. The end result will be a considerably bigger, stronger you.

Now go get after it.

For more ideas on how to get out of your rut and smash through plateaus check out MuscleGainingSecrets.com.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to Build Muscle Fast

If you want to build muscle fast there are a few very important factors you need to be aware of. First of all, if you have less than Herculean genetics you need to be sure to avoid overtraining. There are several different ways to do this which are listed below.

• Don’t do more than 12-15 sets per workout.
• Don’t train for longer than an hour.
• Don’t train more than four days per week; three days is even better.
• Don’t train for more than 8-12 weeks without taking a week off.
• Don’t train with 90% or above your one rep max for more than three weeks in a row.

Those are a few of the easiest ways to avoid overtraining. Heeding that advice will definitely help you build muscle fast.

Productive mass building workouts are centered on one concept and one concept only; progressive overload. You have to consistently get stronger and lift more weight and do more reps if you ever want to get bigger. Doing the same thing repeatedly will get you absolutely nowhere and is a complete waste of your time.

Also, you need to be sure that you are using big, compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and chin ups with heavy weights. Don’t waste your time with isolation exercises and pumping techniques that do nothing to help you build muscle fast.

Next, you need to be sure your diet is in order. This means that you are eating copious amounts of food every 2-3 hours. Going longer than this without a meal will impede your progress and you will never get huge. You should be focusing on organic whole foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for the majority of your calories. The rest of your intake should be made up of clean sources of protein like eggs and fish.

Another thing that will help you build muscle fast is paying the utmost attention to your recovery. You should be getting as much rest as possible which includes sleeping a minimum of eight hours per night and hopefully even taking a short nap during the day. Another thing that can boost your recovery ability is regular massage. This can be a real massage from a masseuse or just a simple self massage with a foam roller or tennis ball. Either way you do it will help tremendously, just be sure to do it.

Although most people overlook its importance, stretching is another crucially important component of a good muscle building program. Stretching can help tight muscles grow more efficiently and can even help prevent injuries in certain instances. If you don’t do any stretching now, I highly recommend that you start. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results, I’m sure.

If you follow the tips above you will build muscle fast; perhaps faster than you ever imagined. I have provided the information, now it’s up to you to use it.

Good luck.

For more tips on how to build muscle fast visit www.MuscleGainingSecrets.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Single Most Important Factor

What is the single most important thing you can do at the gym to ensure that you will continually get bigger and stronger?

It’s very simple. The most important thing you can do each and every single time you go to the gym is try to set a PR (personal record) on every lift you do. That’s it. What this means is that you should always be trying do either do more reps with the same weight (within reason, any sets above 12 on most upper body exercises and 15-20 reps on lower body exercises will do nothing to stimulate muscle growth) or more weight for the same number of reps. Doing the same thing that you have done in a previous workout will do absolutely nothing to help you get bigger and stronger. The first time you apply a new stress to the body it will adapt by building itself up bigger and stronger. But when it faces that exact same stress again the next time, it will be prepared for it and thus will not adapt again. This is why you have to go up in either weight or reps and try to set a new PR.

Powerlifters and weightlifters continually try to set PR’s in contests. They also do this in training by testing their one rep maxes every few weeks or months. But setting PR’s does not have to be relegated to singles. You should try to set six rep PR’s, ten rep PR’s and twenty rep PR’s. You always have to be improving. To do this you have to keep detailed records of everything you do in a training journal and always look back at it so you have a goal to shoot for at every workout and on every set you do.

No set should ever be done without the goal of setting a PR. The only exceptions are prehab exercises and times when you are rehabbing from an injury. If you continually try to set PR’s on everything you do it gives your workout a much greater purpose and meaning. Not only that but it is a thousand times more fun than just mindlessly going through the motions trying to get a pump. Suddenly your workout becomes something that has quantifiable results that can be measured each and every single time you set foot in the gym. What could be more motivating than that? Chasing PR’s also eliminates all the useless junk volume that most people end up doing after they have finished their main exercises.

Even if you start your workout with big exercises like chin ups and military presses and set new eight rep PR’s on those, it doesn’t mean that when you get to the little exercises and the end like hammer curls and pushdowns that should forget the principle and just do whatever it takes to get a pump. On the contrary, you should still be trying to set a new eight, ten or twelve rep PR on both of those exercises as well.

Forget about adding more sets, decreasing your rest periods and supersetting for a while because none of those approaches will ever give you the long lasting results you are looking for. If you want to really ramp up the speed at which you build muscular size and strength, start trying to set PR’s on every lift you do and get ready to be blown away by the results you achieve and how much more enjoyable your training will become.

To dramatically increase the effectiveness of your training, go to MuscleGainingSecrets.com
, now.

"I gained 18 pounds of muscle, got noticeably leaner, faster and increased my bench press by 35 pounds in one summer using Jay's Muscle Gaining Secrets and dominated the competition when I returned to camp in August. When it comes to designing muscle building workouts, Jay is the best there is. ”
Jay Frank
Linebacker, Northeastern University

"Yo Jay! F*CKING THANK YOU! I can't tell you how much other nonsense workout programs I used that didn't do sh*t compared to Muscle Gaining Secrets. This is actually blowing me away. The info is awesome and the results are sick! People think I'm using steroids. I'm up 9 pounds in my first three weeks and my strength is crazy! I will send you more updates and pics real soon. Thanks bro.”
Mike Ritello
Stamford, Connecticut

Monday, January 21, 2008

Train Smarter

I enjoy all of your advice. Still, this "live to fight another day" piece came at just the right time. I too was deadlifting. With 495 on the bar and a plan to get a few at 585 I felt a twinge. Lucky I had checked my email earlier today. Your course is already helping me to put on more size with less time in the gym than I've experienced in a decade, so, there was no way I wasn't going to listen to this tidbit. I decided to put away the fangs, ratchet back down and move on to chin-ups. Not a doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do. Nor do I doubt I would have gone the other way if you had not interjected. Tomorrow instead of cursing myself, I look forward to some cardio. (not really but I'm going to do it anyway ; )

Lonny MacDougall

I can't tell you how helpful this would have been had I thought about this last week. I appreciate your newsletters and benefit from their guidance and suggestions. I love the kettlebells myself!

A brief history of my lifting career...I started powerlifting about 6 years ago with Donnie Thompson and Mark "Spud" Bartley, Carl Tillman, Shedrick "Tex" Henderson and a few others at the Compound in Columbia, South Carolina. During that time I did about 4 strongman meets. I did well in the powerlifting setting some state and national records but never did very well in the strongman because I wasn't conditioning myself nor was I training for it very often (did a few weekend training sessions with strongman/powerlifter Mikey Johnson). Then after recovering from a torn distal bicep tear, surgery and PT, about 15 months later I had regained all the strength I had before but my passion for PLing was gone. So, about April of '07 I switched to olympic lifting and began training with a renound oly coach here in SC, Mike Srock. I have been doing that full time for the last few months and haven't really gotten into the groove with the %'s during my workouts or without using gear.

Last week, doing heavy front squat singles (I have never done heavy front squats), I decided to see what I could do for a single. On my last set of 365lbs I went down and "POP!" I dumped the weight, left the gym and went to an orthopedic doc the next day. I have either torn my IT (unlikely he says) or my vastus lateralis. There is no bruising, but it does hurt=pain when I squat down/stand up. From the looks of the deformation in my outter quad, I think it's a partial tear of the IT.
I'm 28 now and have been lifting long enough to know, not to do something as stupid as I did. I shouldn't have tried to go heavy on the front squats, much less tried heavy singles! :(

But this too, has been another learning experience, just like the torn bicep tendon tear. I will be that much more of a cautious/smarter lifter.

Very Sincerely,

Aaron G. Pickens, CSCS
Spartanburg, SC


I couldn't agree more. This principle has saved me a few times here recently. Keep up the great articles. I've learned a tremendous amount from your previous e-books and look forward to learning more in the future.


Ken Finley

I couldn't agree more. I am in the same boat with my back. When I
feel this "twinge" on the left side, I am better off terminating the
training for that day. I will be way stiff and unable to train for a week
if I ignore what my body is trying to tell me. Took me a while to realize
this, but I can get back in the gym sooner if I listen to my body. Keep up
the great work.


Solid advice today bro.

I made the mistake of continuing through the pain a while back while I was performing dynamic squats. I was using about 50% of my max with light bands and had already done 2 sets before I tweaked my back but wasn't smart enough to call it early. By set 5 I was about crippled. Took several weeks for me to get back to normal and now feel weak as piss.

I guess one day i'll learn.


Visit MuscleGainingSecrets.com for smarter mass building workouts and get twice the results in half the time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Smart Thing To Do

Last night I was at the gym doing deadlifts. I had planned on doing two sets but I went a little heavier than I should have on my first set. As I stripped a plate off each side to prepare for my back off set I felt a twinge in my back while bending over. I stood up and tried to stretch out but it didn’t help much.

“Whatever,” I thought. I have had this happen a hundred times and have always plowed through it. I put the plates back and tightened up the collars.

When I finished writing in my training journal I dropped my pen and bent over to pick it up. Again my back felt like something wasn’t quite right. In the past I would have ignored these signs and would have tried to be tough and work through it.

This time was different though. I thought long and hard and concluded that I didn’t feel like getting injured again or at least being a little messed up for a few days.

So I skipped the set and unloaded the bar. I can’t tell you the last time I made such a smart decision in the weight room. It’s taken quite a few years but maybe I finally matured enough to not push through pain and hurt myself. I can only hope so.

This morning I woke up and felt great. I know for a fact that I would have felt terrible and would have been hobbling around all day if I did that second set. I have had the exact feeling plenty of times before.

Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

I have had several injuries in the gym over the last 20 years that could have been avoided if I trained smarter and listened to my body. My ego and relentless determination always got the best of me, however.

The morale of the story is that no matter how bad you want it, no matter how hardcore you are…you have to listen to your body. You can avoid so many injuries and continue to make great progress if you do. Some days you just won’t be able to generate any intensity no matter how hard you try. On days like that you probably shouldn’t be training. Don’t use it as an excuse, but if you are genuinely off your game that day, skip your workout or do less.

You will stay healthy and make continual progress. There is nothing worse than being on the shelf for three months with an injury. Trust me on that one. Smarter training equals better results.

Visit MuscleGainingSecrets.com now for the best mass building workouts around.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Genetics and Muscle Building

Question: Just how big of a role do genetics play in the muscle building process? Are some people doomed from the word go, or is this nothing but a lame excuse?

Answer: Genetics definitely play a role in how big you can eventually get. Some guys can get absolutely jacked by eating three meals per day and doing a few sets of pushups and chin ups. These guys can also do workouts that would overtrain most of us into the ground and grow from them. This doesn’t mean you should compare yourself to them or do what they do. Some people succeed in spite of what they do. Great genetics let you get away with subpar training and a less than optimal diet.

But the fact of the matter is that these guys are few and far between. Most of us don’t have that luxury and will have to do everything right in our muscle building workouts and with our diets to gain serious amounts of mass. This fact is not to be used as an excuse for your failures and shortcomings, however. Everyone, and I mean everyone, can gain at least fifty pounds of muscle from the time they first start weight training. It may take some longer than others, but it can be done, every time. If you train and eat right there are no excuses. Sure you may never look like Flex Wheeler or Ronnie Coleman but you can make incredible improvements. The “hard gainer” excuse is nothing but a lame cop out, in my eyes. I have terrible muscle building genetics and have trained several guys who were in the same boat. We all gained a minimum of fifty pounds of muscle with some guys gaining close to a hundred. My advice to everyone is to ignore this kind of talk and forget about your genetics entirely. Don't listen to the weak minded losers who will tell you that those kinds of gains are impossible without drugs. They are destined for failure in all that they do in life. It’s corny and clich├ęd but if you believe it, you can achieve it.

For the best muscle building workouts you will find, visit MuscleGainingSecrets.com.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Muscle Building Cardio

Many people live in constant fear that too much cardio will cause them to lose muscular size and strength. Their fears are not unfounded; too much cardio will, indeed, eat away muscle tissue and cause strength losses. There are a few types of cardio, however that will actually do the opposite. Instead of cardio that just burns fat or just improves your cardiovascular system or, worse yet, does neither of those but just causes muscle loss, there is actually such a thing as muscle building cardio.

Unfortunately most people don't do it. They waste all their time on the stair climber or eliptical machine when they could actually be doing something that will burn fat and build muscle at the same time.

My favorite types of muscle building cardio are sprints, hill sprints, sled sprints and Prowler sprints. These workouts should be be performed in the following manner:

-- Warm up thoroughly.

-- Sprint for 5-20 seconds straight as hard and as fast as you can.

-- Rest for 1-3 minutes or as long as needed to catch your breath, bring your heart rate down a bit, and prevent yourself from throwing up.

-- Repeat for 15-20 minutes 2-3 days per week.

This type of cardio training is what produces the incredible physiques you see on sprinters and NFL wide receivers. Technically it's not traditional, old school cardio, but it works to get you big and lean.

The most dangerous form of muscle building cardio is plain old sprints. If you are not accustomed to sprinting regularly you are at great risk for a hamstring, hip flexor or knee injury. Hill sprints slow you down, especially if the hill is fairly steep and for that reason are much safer. Sprinting with a sled attached to your waist does the same thing and is very effective and very safe. Pushing the Prowler is an incredibly demanding but result producing workout. For those who are unfamiliar with the Prowler, it is pictured above and can be purchased at EliteFTS.com. It is worth every penny and will get you in great shape in a hurry.

There you have; the most effective forms of muscle building cardio. Get off the Nordic Track and give these workouts a try today. You won't be disappointed.